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Dublin: 18 °C Saturday 8 August, 2020

Prison officers admit they don't know what to do with prison gangs

“This is the problem – the kind of control these people have over the general population.”

Image: prison image via Shutterstock

THE ORGANISATION REPRESENTING prison officers has rejected comments made in a report suggesting some officers are turning a blind eye to the growth of criminal gangs in prison.

The Prison Culture Report published yesterday noted Ireland does not have a clear operational strategy for dealing with criminal gangs in prisons.

“Prisoners who refuse to concede to the demand of gang leaders are put under pressure and may be subject to physical violence. Some individual staff members appear to be at a loss as to how to manage the problems of disorder which result and prefer to turn a blind eye to gang activities, with the victims of violence being transferred to other prisons rather than the perpetrators,” it said.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today, deputy general secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association, Jim Mitchell, described the comments as “particularly hurtful” and “unbalanced”.

He said the large number of phone, weapon and drug finds in prison cells would not come about if officers were turning a blind eye to gang activity.

However, he said prison staff “aren’t sure exactly how to deal with gang members”.

The difficulty, particularly arises when there’s incidents of violence, that he refers to in his report. The person who actually ordered that be carried out, that person isn’t there, is quite possibly in a different prison, quite possibly in a different set up entirely. This is the problem – the kind of control these people have over the general population.

The report itself points out that there is no clear strategy or meaningful individual assessment of prisoners and their behaviour in order to mark out the gang leaders and troublemakers.

Mitchell said gang leaders should be taken out of the general population and should be detained in a separate institution.

Read: Some officers ‘turning a blind eye’ to growth of criminal gangs in prisons>

Read: Gardaí are cracking down on Ireland’s most prolific burglars>

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